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14 July 2011

News Limited News Update: News Of The World, Herald Sun, BSkyB..., by Greg Tingle - 14th July 2011


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'Brooks, catastrophe': Last laugh for NoTW staff as final crossword takes aim at Rebekah

Sacked News of the World staff appear to have fired a parting shot at their former editor Rebekah Brooks, disguising mocking messages in the crossword of the tabloid's final edition.

Brooks, now the chief executive of News International, reportedly brought in two loyal proofreaders to sanitise Sunday's final edition of any jibes directed at her following the newspaper's spectacular demise during the phone hacking scandal.

But they failed to detect the not-so-cryptic clues that appear to savage her in the crosswords on page 47.

Among the clues in the paper's Quickie puzzle were: "Brook", "stink", "catastrophe" and "digital protection".

The Cryptic Crossword appears to go even further, including the hints "criminal enterprise", "mix in prison", "string of recordings", and "will fear new security measure".

Another clue was "woman stares wildly at calamity", with suggestions it refers to a photograph of Mrs Brooks as she left the News International HQ in east London on Thursday after staff were told the paper would be shut down.

The answer to that particular clue was "disaster".

Other answers included: "Deplored", "stench", "stir", "menace", "desist", "racket" and "tart".

A source at the News of the World told the Daily Mail that "Rebekah tried everything to stop the staff having the last word and she utterly failed".

"She brought in two very senior Sun journalists to go though every line on every page with a fine toothcomb to ensure there were no libels or any hidden mocking messages of the chief executive," the source said.

"But they failed and we've had the last laugh."

The decision to close the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid after 168 years in print follows an extraordinary week of revelations about intrusive phone hacking and alleged pay-offs to police from the newspaper. It was revealed that the tabloid had tapped into the phone messages of murdered schoolgirls and relatives of slain soldiers and 2005 London bombing victims.

The job losses sparked scenes of anger last week at the paper's headquarters, largely directed at Brooks.

She was the editor in charge when phone-tapping practices were used but has somehow been spared the knife.

In a secret recording made as she addressed staff on Friday, Brooks can be heard saying: "This is not exactly the best time in my life but I'm determined to get vindication for this paper and for people like you."

The staff then cheer as an unidentified male staff member angrily replies: "You're making the whole of News International toxic. There's an arrogance that you think we would want to work for you."

Murdoch flew in to London overnight to deal with the crisis engulfing News International, and was pictured leaving his apartment with his arm around Brooks, whom he described as his number one priority. (Credit: The Age)

News apologises for website virus after hack attack...

Readers of Melbourne’s Herald Sun website may have been exposed to a virus, the News Limited tabloid’s website said this week, in another embarrassment for the media company.

"The Herald Sun wishes to apologise to any readers who may have been affected by a virus that appeared for a short time on,’’ the newspaper said in a note posted to its website. ‘‘The offending virus and files were quickly removed and the site is operating as normal."

The Herald Sun warned readers that their computers could only be infected "if you clicked ‘allow’ to a software download in a pop-up window from bogus sites’’.

Herald & Weekly Times digital operations and business strategy director Peter Clark blamed a hacking attack for the virus.

"The Herald & Weekly Times, publishers of, can confirm that we did have a hacking attack on the Herald Sun website on Monday July 11," he said. "The attack attached malware on some files on the site."

"We have since addressed the issue, but we are not in a position to release any further details on the basis that it may provide information for further attacks," said Mr Clark.

The trouble for the newspaper come as shares in parent company News Ltd skidded on continuing worries about the fallout from the phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom. Revelations about the extent of the problem at the global media company’s UK operations have electrified the public - both locally and overseas - unleashing a firestorm of criticism as well as multiple investigations in the UK.

James Turner at Sydney-based IT advisory services company IBRS said organisations, like the Herald Sun, "should be talking to their web hosting provider about what measures are in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening".

"It's embarrassing for any organisation to have its website passing off malware to customers," said Mr Turner. "We're still in the Wild West days of the Internet and so many organisations are taking the cheaper path, purely because they don't understand the value in IT security."

Malware, similar to a virus, is a program that infects a host computer, compromising the user’s privacy, or hijacking its normal operation.

The Herald Sun recommended users who believed their computer had been infected should run a full anti-virus scan.

Chris Gatford director of security consultancy Sydney-based HackLabs said, the majority of users were more likely to be caught by malware.

That’s because less savvy web suffers often run older operating systems on their computers and web browser that might lack crucial security patches.

Malware can alert people to fake anti-virus software, which it says is needed to “clean” the victim’s computer, he said.

“However, after taking money, it does nothing and sits in the background (of your computers system).”

Malware could also add making a PC user an unwitting accomplice to a botnet, or a network of computers that illegally shares media files or mounts attacks on other websites, he said.

Other malware programs try to ferret out a computer users banking details. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

News shares rally after bid for BSkyB dropped...

Shares in News Corp have jumped more than 4 per cent after Rupert Murdoch dropped his bid for British pay TV giant BSkyB.

The move comes after the scandal over newspaper phone-hacking at Mr Murdoch's UK paper News of the World escalated.

The announcement came overnight shortly before Britain’s parliament began debating a government-backed motion calling on the media baron to halt his attempt to acquire the 61 per cent of satellite broadcaster BSkyB his company does not own.

New Corp’s main stock on the Australian Securities Exchange added 62 cents, or 4.2 per cent, to $15.36 in mid-morning trade. It’s non-voting stock was up 55 cents, or 3.9 per cent, at $14.81.

Prior to today, about $6.5 billion had been wiped off the company’s market capitalisation since July 6, after news of the phone hacking scandal emerged in the UK.

Shares in British Sky Broadcasting Group also rose overnight after the takeover bid for the company was pulled.

BSkyB shares closed 2 per cent higher at 705 pence, after trading around 680 pence when News Corp said it was pulling its bid.

In the immediate aftermath of the statement, the shares tanked to a low of 665 pence, but that knee-jerk sell-off proved short-lived as investors had already concluded that the bid was doomed given the toxic political environment.

Analysts said News Corp's decision will, counter-intuitively, help BSkyB after a week-long battering following the disclosure of widespread phone hacking at the News of the World.

Now that the bid has been pulled, speculators like hedge funds - who were looking for windfalls from the prospect of a higher News Corp offer - are pulling out. At the same time, however, new investors are looking to buy up what has become relatively cheap stock for a company that is highly profitable. (Credit: AAP)

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